Just as members of a pop band are defined by one signature characteristic (e.g., Paul McCartney was the cute one; Victoria Beckham was the posh one), each of the five resident shop dogs at Beuerman Miller Fitzgerald (748 Camp St., 524-3342; www.e-bmf.com) has a sharply defined quirk. When their owners talk about the dogs, they sound like they're gushing over their favorite larger-than-life media personalities. Which, in a way, they are — especially considering that the shop is a PR firm.
"Scarlet's a strong, independent woman," owner Katherine Olivard says of her Pomeranian. "She's the most fashionable one."
"Bonnie is very sensitive. She's a little bit shy," says Shannon Stewart, who owns the Cairn terrier mix.
"Jacques loves jazz. If I have an evening meeting, I put on Miles Davis and he's fine," Virginia Miller says of her four-year old Vizsla. "He has the biggest personality."
"Bandit is the old man of the group," says Greg Beuerman, who owns the Cavalier King Charles spaniel. "And Bear is a frequent guest ... well, a frequent terror."
"They're all like our children," Olivard adds.
Founded in 1926, Beuerman Miller Fitzgerald is situated near Lafayette Square, where the dogs fraternize with colleagues, including a bulldog named Peaches who belongs to a judge in the neighboring courthouse. When Miller was scoping out a new home for the agency in 2006, a dog-friendly space was high on her priority list.
"We wanted to make it so you could bring your dog to work," she says. "I was looking for space that would be dog-friendly, so that played a role in finding our new office. I don't think we realized how dog-friendly we would be."
The number of canine guests ranges from three ("Three is a great number," Miller says) to five ("Five is a bit much") most days, but the airy, 5,000-square-foot space offers ample play space and floor-to-ceiling windows so dogs can keep an eye on the neighborhood. Exposed cypress beams and soaring ceilings speak to the building's history as a tobacco warehouse. The Fats Domino, Little Richard and Ray Charles album covers lining the brick walls are a nod to its former life as a recording studio owned by Cosimo Matassa. Beuerman and Miller say the space's creative lineage helps inspire them in their work for clients ranging from Tabasco to Southern Comfort. The dogs' comforting presence keeps both employees and clients grounded.
"(They) create a familial setting, which is nice," Miller says. "We're so focused and businesslike that it's a really fun little diversion. They disarm people — even the stiffest person, you get to see a lot more of their personality because of the dogs. It's wonderful."
Employees share the responsibility of taking the dogs on twice-daily walks, which creates a sense of camaraderie, Miller says. "We've had people apply for jobs here, and they say, 'I love the fact that you have dogs,'" she says. "When we do interviews, the first words out of our mouths are, 'How are you with dogs?'"
Our Favorite Things...
Walks in Lafayette Square
Sitting in on client meetings
Snacking on oysters, yogurt, bananas and papaya
Wearing a New Orleans Saints cheerleading outfit
Jockeying for sunbeams